Migration and Development Brief 34: Resilience: COVID-19 Crisis Through A Migration Lens

Related Sustainable Development Goals and Global Compact for Migration Objectives

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SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
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SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities
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GCM 19
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The latest Migration and Development Brief provides the most recent data and research on global trends in migration and remittances. It highlights developments related to migration-related Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) indicators for which the World Bank is a custodian: increasing the volume of remittances as a percentage of gross domestic product (SDG indicator 17.3.2) and reducing remittance costs (SDG indicator 10.c.1).

Defying predictions and despite the pandemic, remittance flows have remained resilient in 2020, registering a smaller decline than previously projected. Officially recorded remittance flows to low- and middle-income countries reached $540 billion, only 1.6 percent below the $548 billion seen in 2019. Remittances exceeded foreign direct investment flows by a wider margin in 2020. Excluding China, remittance flows surpassed the sum of foreign direct investment and official development assistance. Remittances have therefore become an important consumption smoothing mechanism for the recipient households and, as such, they form an increasingly important (private) element of global social protection systems.

Remittances are a lifeline for migrants and their families, boosting resilience to crises like the pandemic and contributing to long-term development gains in communities across the globe. This data, and COVID-19 more broadly, have shown that remittances are more important than imagined, and that while other sources of financial support may wane due to political or situational changes, migrants will continue to support their families however they can. Remittances can be a powerful poverty reduction tool, and may prove essential in providing safeguards to communities who are facing other global crises such as climate change.

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